Tar Heel Shared Reader

Bad Language bug

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I just found and fixed a bug that resulted in some of you getting an error message about “Bad Language”. The issue wasn’t the use of foul language in your books; it was a bug in the code.

Thanks to Lori and Paige for reporting the issue.

You may need to force your browser to refresh TWO TIMES by pressing the F5 key or pressing the little circular refresh arrow near the URL bar in order to get the updates.

New features at Tar Heel Reader

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This morning we released a new version of Tar Heel Reader that has been in development for over a year. It brings several new features and possibly a few bugs.

  • New voice: Those of you using modern browsers should see a new option Built in in the Speech menu. This will use the built-in text-to-speech capability on your computer and my sound better than the old speech engines we have on the site.
  • Reading offline: On modern web browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox you’ll have the option of saving books into local storage on your computer so that you can read them when you are offline. Simply add books to your Favorites and then go to the Read offline page to add them to your locally stored books. You can even have speech when offline by using the Built-In voice.
  • Draft books in Favorites: Now you can add books that you would rather not publish to your Favorites page. Simply read your draft book from the Your Books page and then click the Heart icon in the upper right of the first page of the book to add it to your Favorites. We hope this will make it easier for your students to read unpublished books.
  • Passwords: Probably the most requested feature has been the option to change your password; that should now work.

Let us know by sending mail to tarheelreader@cs.unc.edu if you run into issues with the new version.

Tar Heel Gameplay

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Check out our new site Tar Heel Gameplay with games everyone can play. You’ll find a growing collection of games made from YouTube videos. The games are accessible using switches, mouse, or touch screens.

You can create and share your own games using the Create page. You can have a simple gameplay going in just a few seconds using the Basic creator. The Precise creator allows you to put varied prompts at just the times you want. The Advanced creator allows you to create gameplays with multiple choices, jumps, and loops.

Down for maintenance Tuesday 30 June 2015 5PM EDT

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The university will be working on the electrical power into our building this evening. That will require all computers including Tar Heel Reader to be powered down. We should come back online early Wednesday morning July 1.

10,000 published authors!

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As of this morning we have 10,001 different authors who have written 41,125 books in 24 languages. These books have been read over 8 million times in 197 countries.

Way to go Tar Heel Reader authors!

Now available in Portuguese!

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Thanks to the efforts of Rui Fernandes of CANTIC, Tar Heel Reader is now available in Portuguese. He signed up with the Transifex translation service just this morning and his translation is already live on the site.

We’d love to have volunteers for other languages. You do all the work on the web using an easy to use interface.

Login now uses https for security

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I have modified the login process so that it will now send your credentials over https to enhance site security. Not that we’ve had any problems but our campus is beginning to audit such things and we got dinged for not following best practices.

Let us know if you see any new login related issues.

French language interface

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Today’s updates to Tar Heel Reader included a new French translation. On the front page, simply select Français in the language selection box and click the globe button.

Hardware errors

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I have been alerted that the computer that runs Tar Heel Reader is having some hardware problems. We have a very capable team who are investigating. They may have to reboot the computer multiple times to get things fixed.

So, if the site goes away, know that folks are working hard to get it back up and stable.

And, if you’re writing a book you better save early and often.

$50,000 Writing Contest for Tar Heel Reader Users

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Enter the Story Share $50,000 Writing Contest for a chance to win the Grand Prize of $10,000 and help teen and adult beginning readers. Visit www.StoryShareContest.com to submit your story today!

Story Share is a contest that seeks to inspire writers and educators to author engaging stories with age-appropriate characters and themes for readers 13+ who read below grade level. The largest individual prize is $10K. The contest is open now and runs through December 8, 2013. Winners will be announced in January, 2014.


Beware iOS7 upgrade

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Updated: 14 October 2013

Now that I’ve bought a new Mac and gotten setup to debug it seems to work. I guess they just wanted me to buy a new computer 😉

Let me know if you see problems with Tar Heel Reader on iOS7.

I have read that the Safari browser app is very buggy in this new release and I’m already getting reports that Tar Heel Reader is not working properly on it.

I don’t have a device to test on but will get one ASAP. You would be well served by avoiding the upgrade on devices that you intend to use with Tar Heel Reader.

Audio not working with Firefox 23 on Windows

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Update: 6 September 2013. I have pushed a change to production that should work around this bug.

I got a bug report and have verified that speech is not working (except in classic mode) when using the latest release of Firefox on Windows 7. This is caused by a bug in Firefox. They know about it and have prepared a fix but it won’t be available for a while.

I’m trying to think of a work around. If you can use Google Chrome in the meantime, I recommend you do that.

No book writing 25 July from 4PM to 10PM PDT

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The Flickr picture repository we use for pictures has informed us that they have scheduled a maintenance outage for Thursday 25 July 2013 from 4PM to 10PM Pacific Daylight Time. Everything on the site should work during that time except searching for pictures on the Write page.

Copyrighted Images and Tar Heel Reader

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Because Tar Heel Reader is a copyright-free site, you must use photos from Flickr Creative Commons or photos you own. Please do not upload photos you find at other photo sources on the web. If you upload pictures for use in your books you will now have to checkoff that you have permission to use them before you can publish your book. The new checkbox will appear just above the Publish button only when you upload images.

Uploading rotated pictures

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I have modified the code for uploading pictures so that they will be properly rotated if they contain the necessary EXIF information. This should help those of you who are uploading pictures from your phones and tablets.

Read your draft books

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On the Your Books page you can now read your draft books. Click the book name and then select the Read button. This may be a partial solution for those of you who want to create books that are not shared with everyone.